There are many reasons why you might be living abroad as an expat. You might be living abroad for work – perhaps your company has transferred you to another country, or you are teaching English as a foreign language? Or, you might have retired and be living the dream in a country with year-round sunshine. Whatever the reason, there are certain preparations you can make to ensure that this exciting transition is as smooth as possible. Here are some tips for preparing for expat life.
Learn the local language
English is a global language that everyone speaks, so there’s no need to bother learning the local language, right? No. It is important that you make an effort to learn the language of your new country, as although you might never become fully fluent, knowing some of the language is a mark of respect towards the people you will interact with on a daily basis. Furthermore, some people may not speak a lot of English, so knowing some of the local language goes a long way in easing communication. You can learn a range of languages online using a program such as Rosetta Stone, and you can take one-on-one classes with a native speaker when you have arrived at your destination.
If you have children, you should organise their schooling before you leave. One great option is to enrol them in an international school such as Rugby School Thailand. Here, students will learn a well-rounded curriculum designed to mould them into international citizens, and they will make everlasting connections with friends from all over the world. Alternatively, you might decide that a boarding school is the best option for your child, to provide them with stability whilst you are living and working abroad.
Translate copies of important documents
When you are moving abroad, you should ensure that you have several copies of important documents like visas, birth certificates and passport photocopies stored safely. These are needed for setting up bank accounts and tenancy agreements, and also act as backups if the originals get lost or stolen. If you are moving to a country that speaks a different language, you should get your documents professionally translated before you leave. This will help to avoid misunderstandings with the people you are dealing with, and some organisations, such as universities, require documents to be professionally translated.
Be prepared for culture shock
Culture shock is something that everyone experiences when they leave a familiar environment for an unfamiliar one. Whilst you might initially be high on adrenaline and feel like you are on holiday, this feeling quickly fades after a few weeks when you start to notice all the things that are different about your new home.
To overcome culture shock, accept that the reality of a place is often very different to the image that is sold by the media, and make a concerted effort to integrate. This might mean learning the local language and picking up a new hobby to make new friends.